funny story

Beshert | Not a Chain Restaurant

In the early 1960s, when I was about 10 or so, I was in the backseat of our family car driving somewhere in upstate New York. My parents were in the front seat and my older brother, Paul, was next to me. It wasn’t the busy New York Thruway but it wasn’t a winding country road either. In any case, we were running low on fuel and our stomachs were growling as well. My father, the driver, was never one to let the gas gauge slip too low. But as we traveled onward, we noticed there were no filling stations along the way—nothing except trees and nature. This went on until the gas gauge pointed to near empty. We all got a bit apprehensive; anxiety mixed with hunger is never a good combination. Then as we rounded a...

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Yiddish storytelling

Yiddish Storytelling for a New Generation

Yiddish has a rich legacy of storytelling for children, including both global classics and works that originated in the mother tongue of Ashkenazi Jewry. Join Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone translator Arun Viswanath and Miriam Udel, editor and translator of Honey on the Page: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature for a wide-ranging conversation with Moment Deputy Editor Sarah Breger about how they are helping to bring the legacy of Yiddish into the twentieth century, their work in relation to broad developments in Jewish history and how it intersects with their own family narratives.

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Woman with a Mirror by Peter Pau Rubens

Jewish Word // “Zaftig”

A Full-Bodied History by Hilary Weissman, with additional reporting by Sala Levin For a quick overview of the complexities of the word zaftig, take a look at the Los Angeles Jewish Home’s video circulating online in which its residents demystify the meaning of the word. Charlotte Seeman says that zaftig means “a little bit on the heavy side,” to which the moderator, Marty Finkelstein, asks, “But in a good way?” “They look a little, if you’ll pardon the expression, appetizing to other people,” adds Yetta Dorfman. Esther Berlin is less effusive. “It’s a shame because they don’t take care of themselves and do something about it,” she says, prompting the chivalrous gentleman of the group, Irving Rubinstein, to defend the zaftig dame’s honor. “It’s kind of a sexy, plump, attractive woman,” he concludes. That, in a nutshell, is...

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A Bintel Brief by Liana Finick

Book Review // A Bintel Brief

A heartfelt letter sent to a newspaper editor a century ago has long stayed with me. I happened upon it decades after it was written. With his soul in torment, a New York factory owner had turned to the editor for advice. He was not paying his workers— like him, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe—nearly enough for them to make ends meet. He had a business to run, and there were limits to the wages he could afford. Still, the suffering of his employees and their families tore at his heart. What should he do?

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